Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Dental Sealants - a great way to prevent cavities!

What are dental sealants?

Dental sealants are thin resin coatings that are applied to the grooves on the chewing surfaces of the back teeth to protect them from tooth decay. Most tooth decay in children and teens occurs on these surfaces. Sealants protect the chewing surfaces from tooth decay by keeping germs and food particles out of these grooves.

Sealants do not, however, protect the areas of the teeth on the cheek side, tongue side, or in between the teeth, so proper brushing and flossing is still necessary to keep the tooth from decay.

Which teeth are suitable for sealants?

Permanent molars are the most likely to benefit from sealants. The first molars usually come into the mouth when a child is about 6 years old. Second molars appear at about age 12. It is best if the sealant is applied soon after the teeth have erupted, before they have a chance to decay. Baby teeth don't generally need to be sealed.

How are sealants applied?

There are a variety of ways to place sealants. The most common sealant procedure is to use a mild acid "etch" of the teeth to gently roughen the surface of the tooth, then flow the resin sealant material into the grooves of the tooth and use an ultraviolet light to harden the resin.

However, we have found that our sealants can be more effective and longer lasting by modifying that basic technique. So our sealants include a very thorough cleaning of the fissures and grooves within the teeth to eliminate any bacteria. Without this step, it could be possible to seal IN the bacteria that can cause tooth decay. Then we use the mild acid "etch", and then as an additional step to retain the sealant, we use a chemical agent that "bonds" the sealant material in. This really makes for a solid long lasting sealant.

This is the Meiners Dentistry difference.

Are sealants visible?

Sealants can only be seen up close. Sealants are generally a fairly opaque white, as seen in the picture above.

Will sealants make teeth feel different?

As with anything new that is placed in the mouth, a child may feel the sealant with the tongue. Sealants, however, are very thin and only fill the pits and grooves of molar teeth.

How long will sealants last?

A sealant can last for as long as 5 to 10 years. Sealants should be checked at your regular dental appointment and can be reapplied if they are no longer in place.

Why is sealing a tooth better than waiting for decay and filling the cavity?

Decay damages teeth permanently. Sealants protect them. Sealants can save time, money, and the discomfort sometimes associated with dental fillings. Fillings are not permanent. Each time a tooth is filled, more drilling is done and the tooth becomes a little weaker.

Are sealants covered by dental insurance?

Many dental insurances cover sealants at 100% as a preventative procedure. Others cover as much as 80% of the procedure. We can check with your coverage. Sealants are very affordable even if you do not have dental insurance though.

Make sure to ask if dental sealants are right for your child at your next dental visit!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

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Monday, May 10, 2010

Wisdom Teeth - Why do they have to be removed?

Why did we get born with wisdom teeth if they just have to get removed?

Well, let's start with some facts about wisdom teeth.

Wisdom teeth in the dental world are referred to as "third molars", and they generally erupt into the mouth (if they aren't impacted) between the ages of 17-21.

The average person's mouth comfortably holds about 28 of the 32 teeth we have, and since those wisdom teeth are the last to erupt, there is often little room to accommodate their size.

The x-ray image we use to check wisdom teeth is known as the panoramic x-ray and looks like this:
With this full mouth x-ray, we can see if the patient has wisdom teeth, and where they are at.

Why are Wisdom Teeth Removed?

* They are erupting into an abnormal position, are tilted, twisted, or sideways.

* An infection has developed from trapped food or bacteria

* They are trapped below the gum due to lack of space

* The erupted wisdom tooth is so far back in the mouth that it is not getting cleaned properly and results in tooth decay, or gum infection.

Many wisdom teeth can be removed at our office. Dr. Don and Zach Meiners both remove wisdom teeth when they are non-complicated.

For Patients that either have a complex surgical case, or wish to be sedated for their wisdom teeth removal, we have a wonderful group of Oral Surgeons that we refer to.

What are Cold Sores (Fever Blisters)?

Cold Sores (Fever Blisters) generally occur either on the outside of the mouth on the lips, or the harder, non-movable tissue of the gums around the teeth, or on the palate.

They generally recur in the same area, and are caused by the Herpes Simplex Type I virus. A large percent of the population carries this virus, but not everyone experiences the virus becoming active and causing cold sores.

This virus though is completely different than the virus for genital herpes, which is type II.

Fever blisters are contagious. They can be passed with skin to skin contact. The time of greatest risk is from the time it appears to the time it has completely crusted over.

There is much that is not known about Cold Sores, but in general, conditions that increase risks of an outbreak include stress, fevers, colds, other illness, and sunburn can influence outbreaks.

If you get a cold sore avoid squeezing, pinching, or picking the blister. Avoid kissing and other skin to skin contact. Wash your hands before touching people, and use sun block on your lips. Other tips include avoiding salty foods, using over-the-counter ointments containing phenol, applying ice for 30 min, apply rubbing alcohol for 2 min, 4 times per day to the sores to help them dry up. Definitely avoid touching your eye anytime you have a cold sore.

The best way to handle cold sores if you get them frequently is to have prescription medicine with you at all times and take it immediately when you feel a cold sore coming on.

Here are some FDA approved medicines for cold sores:

Denavir cream 1% (penciclovir)

Denavir cream was the first antiviral medication to be granted FDA approval for use in the treatment of cold sores (1996). The instructions for Denavir cream state that it should be applied repeatedly throughout the day every 2 waking hours (roughly 9 times a day) for 4 days on those external areas of the lips or face where the cold sore is developing (Denavir cream is not intended for internal use). Application of Denavir should be started as soon as it's sensed that a cold sore has begun to form

Zovirax cream 5% (acyclovir)

Zovirax cream only received FDA approval for use in the treatment of cold sores in late 2002, although other formulations of this medication have been used in the treatment of herpes for many years (including an "off-label" use in the treatment of cold sores in the years prior to 2002). The use of Zovirax cream is similar in nature as with Denavir cream, however the manufacturer claims a more convenient topical dosing schedule.

The instructions for Zovirax cream state that its use should be initiated as soon it is sensed that a cold sore has begun to form
The cream is applied to those external areas of the lips or face where the cold sore is developing (Zovirax cream is not intended for internal use), 5 times a day for 4 days.

Monday, May 3, 2010

What are Canker Sores? Are there Remedies?

What is a Canker Sore?

Canker Sores (Apthous Ulcers)
Occur only inside the mouth and the inner side of the lips. They occur only on the soft fragile lining of the cheeks, lips, soft palate (far back roof of the mouth), and tongue. They do not occur on the firm gum tissue or the firm roof of the mouth.

They are round or oval, have a white center, and a deep red halo around the edge. They usually heal in 7-14 days, but can last 4 weeks. Often more than one canker sore can form in the mouth. They are not contagious, they are not a virus.

The cause of canker sores is not really known. What we do know is that there are certain things that tend to "trigger" outbreaks of canker sores. Trauma from lip biting, sharp objects in the mouth like chips or nails (nailbiters you know who you are), and stress are definite factors. Many different foods have been associated with canker sores including but not limited to: chocolate, citrus fruits, and tomatoes. Less common ones include nuts, vinegar, soy, apples, mustard, spicy foods, dairy products. Each person will have a different cause.

However, the most common cause may be a common ingredient found in a number of toothpastes known as SLS or Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, which is the detergent responsible for the foaming of the paste.

If you suffer from recurrent canker sores you may want to consider first using a non-SLS toothpaste, like Oral-B/Rembrandt's Canker Sore reducing toothpaste.

"So, I've got a canker sore, now what?"

Here are a few canker sore remedies recommended for minor canker sores according to dentistry.about.com:

At-home treatment for minor canker sores include:

  • Saltwater Solution and Sodium Bicarbonate - Mix 1 teaspoon salt with one cup warm water. Swish the solution in your mouth for 30 seconds, then expectorate (spit) the solution out of your mouth. In addition to salt, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) may be added to the saline solution as well. Create a paste by mixing baking soda with small drops of water until a thick consistency has resulted. Use this paste to cover the canker sores, which will help relieve pain. These methods may be repeated as often as needed. Saline and sodium bicarbonate both help the mouth heal quickly by gently reducing the alkalinity and bacteria in the mouth.
  • Hydrogen Peroxide Solution - Mix one part hydrogen peroxide with one part water. Use a cotton swab to dab the solution directly onto the canker sores. Do not swallow the solution. Hydrogen peroxide is an antiseptic that will help reduce the amount of bacteria in the mouth.
  • Milk of Magnesia - Used frequently as an aide to relieve constipation and as an antacid, milk of magnesia is a liquid suspension of magnesium hydroxide. Dab milk of magnesia directly onto the canker sores with a cotton swab, three to four times a day. This method is recommended after using the hydrogen peroxide solution. Milk of magnesia will help reduce the pain and help speed the healing process.
  • Liquid Antihistamine - Diphenhydramine (Benadryl) may be used as an oral rinse by mixing one part milk of magnesia and one part diphenhydramine together. Rinse with the solution for one minute, then fully spit out the solution. Take care to avoid swallowing this mixture.
  • Over-The-Counter Oral Care Products and Mouth Rinse - Available in most dental care sections, antiseptic mouth rinses contain ingredients intended to help heal mouth sores by reducing the amount of bacteria in the mouth. Oral care products that are manufactured to numb painful areas in the mouth are also useful when treating canker sores. Products such as gels, paste, and rinses that are specifically marketed for mouth sores may provide pain relief and help speed the healing process. It is important that you follow the manufacturers' instructions closely when using over-the-counter products.